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  • The Statistical Recovery

    A lot of bullish commentators are talking about a recovery being in the works, and they may very well be right. But it is not going to look like any recovery worthy of the name. This week we look at what I will call The Statistical Recovery. But first, we take a look at what China is doing, as we continue our look at the rest of the world and ponder if it is time to brace ourselves for an extended bout of the Muddle Through Economy*. (And yes, there is an asterisk.)

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  • The Trend May Not Be Your Friend

    Two weeks ago I presented my thoughts on the current economic situation at my 6th Annual Strategic Investment Conference in La Jolla (co-hosted with Altegris Investments). The speech was well-received, at least to judge from the comment forms. So this week and next, we are going to revisit that talk (with a few edits). Let's start with a little set-up to explain the first few paragraphs.

    My speech was Saturday morning. On Friday, I wore a nice grey suit with a Leonardo tie. For those who know about Leonardo's, they are 'statement' ties. I should note that Tiffani picked the tie out for me about ten years ago and persuaded me to wear it. It took some getting used to. It is 16 silk-screened colors, bright blues and pinks and grays, the central feature of which is a very vivid parrot. It is not subdued.

    When my good friend George Friedman of Stratfor gave his speech on Friday, he commented rather derisively about my taste in ties, which got him a few laughs. This did not bother me too much since, while George is a brilliant geopolitical analyst, his sense of sartorial style is not exactly top-drawer. So now, let's jump into the speech....
  • The Swiss Start Their Engines

    This week we look at the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan is going through major upheavals, and they will have consequences all over the world. And what are those wild and crazy Swiss central bankers up to? It's time for another round of competitive devaluation. And of course I have to look at the recent Barron's cover story, about how stocks are cheap. There's a lot to cover. But first, and quickly, I just wanted to take a moment and remind you to sign up for the Richard Russell Tribute Dinner, all set for Saturday, April 4 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego - if you haven't already. This is sure to be an extraordinary evening honoring a great friend and associate of mine, and yours as well. I do hope that you can join us for a night of memories, laughs, and good fun with fellow admirers and long-time readers of Richard's Dow Theory Letter. The room is filling up and there will be a very large crowd....
  • Time for a Reality Check

    It is not just the US that is in recession. The world is slowing down, and rapidly. This week we quickly survey the rest of the world, and then come back to the US. We follow up with the implications for corporate earnings worldwide, and specifically address my speculations about earnings forecasts for 2009. Let's start with some charts from my friend Simon Hunt, out of London. The following chart shows World Merchandise Export Values and World Industrial Production falling off a cliff. This is the worst such period since the end of World War II. And as the data we will examine next indicates, it is likely to get worse....
  • Some Things That Just Should Not Be

    There are things in today's markets that are simply astounding. They should not exist, yet they do. Why should US bills trade at negative interest? How can oil be trading at all-time highs in terms of spreads over the next year? Bank debt and bonds are trading at discounts not to be believed. Want some free money? I show you a trade that gives you (almost) just that. Fed funds at zero? Are we starting to push on a string? We'll cover all this and more in this week's letter. But first a quick commercial. Not all money managers and funds have had losses this year, even though it may seem like it. My partners around the world can introduce you to some alternative funds, commodity funds, and managers which you might find of interest as you rebalance your portfolio at the end of this year. You owe it to yourself to check them out....
  • The Economy Gets a Margin Call

    As long-time readers know, my daughter Tiffani and I are interviewing millionaires for a book we will be writing called Eavesdropping on Millionaires. This has been one of the more personally impacting projects of my life, as the stories we hear are so very provocative. I hope we can transfer to readers of the book at least half of the impact we are personally experiencing. But at the end of each interview, we let the interviewee ask me questions. Often, they are along the line of 'Do you really think we will Muddle Through?' Sometimes they ask in need of assurance and sometimes they simply think that my stance is somewhat naïve. It is something of an irony that I am called a perma-bear in some circles and a Pollyanna in others. The Muddle Through middle has been lonely of late. So, this week I take another look at my Muddle Through stance. We look at some of the recent data on unemployment and retail sales, think about the implications of a falling trade deficit and a rising US government deficit, speculate about the potential for a serious stock market rally, and also comment on the potential for a GM bailout. There is a lot to cover, so let's jump right in. ...
  • Whatever Happened to Decoupling?

    The old mantra was that if the United States sneezed, the rest of the world would catch a cold, as the US was seen as the main driver of world growth. That was then. Economists and analysts began to argue that China and the developing markets were starting to provide a consumer base for the world. And Europe's new and growing markets would be able to stave off problems from abroad and stay on their own growth path. The world, we were assured last year, would not suffer from problems in the US economy. Today, we look at evidence that this might not quite be the case. And if it is not, those who look for diversification in global markets may be disappointed. Also, I quickly look back at my January forecasts and feel it may be time for a mid-course correction. It seems I may have been a little too optimistic. It should make for an interesting letter....
  • The Return of Muddle Through

    The Return of Muddle Through The dollar reaches new lows. The housing market shows no sign of a bottom. Oil almost touches $84 before backing off. Interest rates go up after the Fed cuts. So naturally the stock market keeps climbing. But then, consumer...
  • The Fugu Ultimatum

    The Fugu Ultimatum In the early fall of 1998, I remember being on a flight to Bermuda from New York. I was upgraded and sat next to a very distinguished looking gentleman. He was going to a conference about re-insurance and I was going to speak at a large...
  • The Birth/Death Ratio

    The Birth/Death Ratio Is the economy slowing down or is it getting ready to go on a new tear? Judging by the run-up in the Dow, the answer is a major turnaround for the economy in the last half of the year, from the close-to-recession numbers of the first...
  • Blame It On Stability

    Introduction This week we look at length at an outstanding new book just hitting the bookstores by good friend Paul McCulley (of Pimco fame), called Your Financial Edge . The main themes will give me an opportunity to weave in a few thoughts about some...
  • Be Careful What You Wish For part2?

    Introduction Be careful for what you wish, because you may get it, and sometimes as H. L. Mencken wrote, you get it good and hard. The collective brain deficit trust, otherwise known as the US Congress, wish for the Chinese to revalue their currency upwards...
  • The US Mortgage Market - Overexposed and Overrated

    Introduction This week we look at the US mortgage market to see what fallout there is from the subprime mortgage woes. It is both less of a problem and/or more of a problem, depending on your perspective, as I predicted it would be last year. Score one...
  • China and the Hedge Fund Dragon

    Introduction s week we look at the possible latest entry into the hedge fund world, The People's Republic of China; review the cockroach principle of subprime mortgages; and investigate the possibility of whether we need more derivatives and not less...
  • Do Trade Deficits Matter?

    Introduction "I don't know whether change will come with a bang or a whimper, whether sooner or later. But as things stand now, it is more likely than not that it will be a financial crisis rather than a policy foresight that will force change...